Posted on: May 31st, 2011 by Jen Mueller

It seems like a strange message to deliver to the Greater Seattle Insurance Professionals last week.  But I wanted an effective and empowering message that would help each of them obtain more business and become more productive at work.  The meaning behind the message is simple – when it comes to building rapport you have to focus on who you’re talking with before you talk about ‘what’ you need.

Often in business we get wrapped up in the “what” questions like “What is the deadline?” “What is the budget?”  “What can you do to help me?”  Those are important questions to answer, but you need to find out “who” you’re talking with first.  People do business and work with those they know, like and trust.  The only way you reach that status is by building rapport and focusing on the “who.”

On the surface my job as a sports reporter seems to involve a lot of numbers, stats, scores and ever changing information.  But I spend more time getting to know the players and coaches as people than I do studying the numbers.  Just last week Mariners Manager Eric Wedge commented to the media that the stats are more for “the media and the fans” than the players themselves.  That doesn’t mean they don’t care about stats or records, but it’s not their primary motivation.  The stats are a “what.” Pressing Wedge or any player on the stats won’t get you very far, which means I have to build rapport in other ways.

Here’s what this means for you: make sure you take the time to make a connection with someone before jumping into business, don’t skip the small talk and if you’re talking about “the game” don’t get wrapped up in the stats.  Chances if you focus on what a fan enjoyed about watching the game you’ll have a more productive conversation.

Jen Mueller is the Founder and CEO of Talk Sporty to Me.  She’s available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops.  Contact for more information. She also developed a line of popular greeting cards as another way to build rapport.  They are available on her website